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Themes & Things To Keep In Mind When Writing Fantasy Stories and Adventures

This list is far from complete. It’s not even trying to be complete. It knows better than that. It just wants to be helpful and provide some inspiration here and there; you know, offer little suggestions that might lead to bigger ideas. (Especially by using the words offered as Wikipedia searches!)

Feel free to make suggestions in the comments! If I like it, I’ll add it to the list! If I don’t like it, well, hey, maybe someone else will! (I think that’s enough exclamation marks for now!)

 

Weather

  • Natural: sunlight, rain, snow, hail, fog, humidity, moonlight, wind, smoke, clouds, shadows, overcast skies, clear skies, lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, moon in sky during daytime
  • Fantastic: summoned weather, unnatural coloration (eg. green fog)

Terrain

  • Natural: mud, hills, canyons & ravines, tall grass, thick undergrowth, rocky ground, soft dirt, woods & forests (tree roots, plant density), caves, lagoons, sand, tide pools, rivers & streams (fast, slow, soft-bottom, rocky-bottom, deep, shallow), waterfalls (shallow, tall, wide, narrow), cliffs & cliff faces, swamps & marshes, beaches & shore fronts, lava fields
  • Artificial: shipping yards and warehouses full of crates and barrels, partially finished buildings (wood beams, planks & tools), alleyways, cobblestones, rooftops, bridges, canals
  • Fantastic: magic-infused or -antipathy areas, magically animated features

Changes

  • Natural: sunrise, sunset, storms, seasons, earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, animal migrations, inside vs. outside (light adaptation), plagues/famine, weathering, floods, tides, animal hunting habits & territories, volcanoes, fires
  • Artificial: buildings, statues, roads being built & demolished; political power struggles; invasions/war; kidnappings
  • Fantastic: divine will, powerful magic, gods (dis)appearing

Landmarks

  • Natural: stone outcropping, lightening struck trees, large boulders, waterfalls
  • Artificial: lone buildings (eg. towers, houses, barns), statues, signs/markers, border walls
  • Fantastic: large skeletons (eg. dragons, giants)

After-Effects of Events

  • fire spell scorch-marks, dead people & monsters, looted treasure caches, monster tracks & other effects on environment, discarded potion bottles & other equipment (like roadside trash), abandoned/ruined buildings

Tricks

  • poisons, diseases, & traps
  • mechanical devices, magic rituals, & other things needing to be undone/stopped
  • misdirections: false alarms, misinformation, inaccurate rumors

Cultures

  • rich vs. poor neighborhoods: different things available, difference in quality and prices
  • social norms: styles of dress and speech, forms of address, foods, coming-of-age rituals, family units (monogamous, polygamous), creation myths, religious beliefs (two cultures can have different views, & practices re: same god), opinion of magic, matriarchal vs. patriarchal vs. egalitarian (See also.)

Mysticism

  • prophecies, good & bad omens (comets, eclipses, supernovas, etc.), birthmarks, superstitions, divination, precognition, dreams, visions

Events Unfolding

  • things happening as the protagonists watch (possibly powerless to act)
  • things happening while the protagonists are busy elsewhere
  • unforeseen consequences of actions

Harsh Situations

  • fatigue, hunger, thirst, extreme temperatures
  • enemy territories (invading? investigating? infiltrating?)

6 comments

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  1. Kiara

    In Weather, ‘lightening’ is supposed to be lightning.

  2. DigitalDraco

    Oops. I know that. Thanks for the typo catch! :)

  3. Iain of Rockhold, Salushen

    This is fantastic!
    It’s really going to help with my D&D campaign. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! :)

  4. Draco

    Glad you like it! Thanks for commenting to let me know!

  5. Lily

    Very interesting and useful.

  6. Colm

    This will really help me for short story writing thanks! :)

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